France pledges an extra €700 million to solar energy
India – International Solar Alliance – Speech by M. Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic, at the Rashtrapati Bhavan Cultural Centre
New Delhi, 11 March 2018
My dear friends, the reason we’re here today is because we believe in Mahātmā Gandhi’s lesson that an ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching. And I think that together we must follow the lesson of our Solar Mamas.
There have been many speeches, we’ve all made speeches against global warming and climate disruption, and many of you here, who were with us last night, are experiencing the direct consequences on their soil, have already lost pieces of territory, have already had some of their economic activity disrupted, and have already seen their fellow citizens’ daily lives deeply disturbed by the consequences.
Because today we have what a few weeks ago, Prime Minister, you called a break: a break between the present and the future, a break between North and South, a break between needs and the potential production of energy and, in particular, solar energy.
But these breaks mustn’t cause us to forget one thing: that we have only one planet, that we share it and that we have no alternative solution for it. And this common destiny gives us common duties.
The countries represented here between the two tropics account for nearly three-quarters of the world’s population, solar potential of 138 gigawatts in the next five years, but only 23% of installed capacity.
Depending on the country, between 20% and 50% of the population don’t have access to electricity: that’s the current reality. And yet, is that inevitable? I don’t think so. And in this regard, India demonstrates perfectly that it’s possible. What you’re in the process of achieving is being watched by the whole world.
In the space of two years, renewable energy installation capacity has risen from 39 to 63 gigawatts, and at the same time, solar energy has increased by 240%. So how have you done it? You’ve attracted investment, you support it, you train young people, and so that’s what we must do, and that’s what the 121 countries of the Alliance in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Oceania must do.
In developed countries, we often drag our feet because there’s resistance and there are established interests. In emerging or developing countries or those in most difficulty, they explain that it’s not possible because there wouldn’t be the investment capacity, because the research wouldn’t be up to it. But there are already so very many counterexamples.
Indeed, the collective goal, what must galvanize us in this International Solar Alliance, is, first of all, to shake up all received ideas, overcome all obstacles, but also to move up to a new level. We’re aiming at a terawatt of solar energy by 2030; to achieve that, we need $1,000 billion in finance.
We know the obstacles: they’re financial, they’re regulatory and they’re capacity-related. So we must remove them methodically, one by one. To do that, we mustn’t simply look at what states are doing but build a new international contract between the public sector, the private sector and civil society, the full strength of whose mobilization we saw earlier, because we’re talking about a common good, for our climate and for the development of all our countries, for access to education and access to a normal life, as one of the Solar Mamas said perfectly a moment ago.
Who can hope to live a normal life, learn to read and develop when they don’t have electricity and therefore light every evening? To that end, I see three main areas to work on. The first is to identify projects in each country. Each country with solar energy potential will provide details here of its solar installation projects and funding needs.
A hundred projects have already been registered across 36 member states; many of them are small or medium-size projects, often the most efficient but the least visible for financiers. They cover priority areas: agriculture and rural development, mini solar networks, roof installations and electric mobility.
They are often promoted by young, innovative companies. And so the job of identifying [projects] is essential because this development mustn’t be reserved for the same big groups – often, as we know, with problems into the bargain in far too many places –, which often come up against red tape, our own timescales, also occasionally corruption and all the difficulties we’ve experienced.
And so what this Alliance must do is make it possible to mobilize many projects, including small ones, have a sort of data bank, a pool of projects and as such be able to group together these small projects and at the same time raise the profile of small and medium-sized businesses and entrepreneurs from each of the countries involved, and find adequate funding.
We must clearly identify thousands of projects now, in addition to the first 100, and the Alliance will enable us to continue doing so, particularly through the launch of a global digital platform facilitating synergies between countries’ needs, expertise, innovative technological solutions and finance.
It’s an essential first lever on which we must all mobilize, and this platform will provide perfect transparency on the issue.
The second project is to release the available finance, both public and private. In 2015 we said we would devote €300 million to solar projects in the Solar Alliance member countries. France has honoured this commitment.
A few months ago I was with President Kaboré in Zagtouli, where we inaugurated West Africa’s largest solar plant. It’s a great source of pride for me and, I think, a very concrete result which also showed the full and complete mobilization of a country like Burkina Faso, which is currently facing huge risks and numerous attacks.
Tomorrow I’ll be with Prime Minister Modi in Uttar Pradesh, to inaugurate the largest solar plant in India’s most populous state. And today I’m announcing that the French Development Agency will devote an additional €700 million to this commitment to solar energy by 2022, bringing our total commitment to €1 billion since its launch.
But in order to achieve the goal of $1,000 billion necessary to develop one terawatt of solar energy by 2030, we need private investors. So the Alliance must enable us to create a favourable framework for vastly increasing these private investments.
This involves implementing regulatory and tariff policies favourable to these investments in renewable energy, efficient procedures on calls for tender, and the use of standard documents to facilitate the purchase and supply of electricity. In this regard, I call on each of the countries represented here to work with us.
It also involves establishing tailored safeguarding tools. Safeguards already exist but they’re too expensive and don’t cover every risk. That’s why India, France, the World Bank and other partners of the International Solar Alliance are working to create a joint safeguarding mechanism within the Solar Alliance, and this should be completed by the end of the year. In this way, beyond the commitments of each country and government, we must succeed in galvanizing private investors.
And here I want to tell those investors that these investments are increasingly profitable, these projects are increasingly profitable. And if each country shoulders its responsibility to create the stability of a framework in terms of investment and returns, it’s appropriate – including economically – to invest in this field.
Finally! The third project is to propose innovative and manageable technological solutions. The Alliance must be a place for meeting and exchanging the technological solutions provided by businesses and research, and the expectations of countries and populations.
There too, let’s get over the dogma that says the most advanced disruptive innovation is the privilege of a few countries. We must succeed in implementing just the opposite, because the most radical innovation is that which enables us to drastically reduce the cost of this energy and, in particular, solar energy.
This involves, above all, training; we’ve just had a perfect example. It’s not enough to have facilities: you must know how to maintain and use them. And in this regard, the creation of a network of 100 centres of excellence in the Alliance countries will provide the opportunity to train 10,000 technicians.
We’ll set up a training course for those young technicians. And this battle is essential, because how many times have we seen countries – and even France may have been on this list – selling tremendous solar farms through their major industrial players, and [this applies] in a lot of other sectors too, and then, a few months after an inauguration amid great fanfare, noticing there were initial difficulties and no one to carry out repairs, no one on the ground who knew how to maintain them, no one on the ground who could really operate them?
If we really want to make this revolution a success, this battle for renewable energy is also a battle for empowerment. The empowerment given to each country in the Solar Alliance to succeed at home, give everyone a place, enable its fellow citizens to build their place and therefore be trained to create jobs in those sectors. It’s a whole package, and it’s the tremendous example those women have just set us.
And so the Solar Alliance must enable us to speed this up by empowering, through training, thousands and thousands of fellow citizens who will be able to be its technicians and will operate them.
We’re also going to develop partnerships supporting the transfer of technology and innovation, because we’ve decided to create, within the Alliance, a resource centre on applications and solar research, in which the French National Solar Energy Institute, among others, will take part.
Training, basic research and applied research are essential levers for making this third project a success.
My dear friends, without the notion of climate justice there would have been no Paris Agreement, there would have been no genuine mobilization and we wouldn’t be here today. Everyone would have passed the buck, and collectively we would have carried on heading into a brick wall.
This climate justice, the determination to protect the essential common good that is our planet, our climate, means our being capable collectively of overcoming all divisions, be they based on geography, short-term interests or representation.
Today we’re inventing a new way of forging alliances in the world, based no longer on principles but on common goods, through a genuine change in our way of thinking and a determination to take action.
I see heads of state and government here, but also many international institutions, businesses, investors and civil society representatives, all gathered to focus on this important initiative.
I recognize many faces who were in Paris on 12 December last year, at the One Planet Summit. We made a lot of progress, but we still have a lot to do. Together with the Prime Minister, I’d like all those who are going to speak this morning to make concrete announcements about their plans to develop solar energy in their countries, about the solutions they can propose or the investments they pledge to make. (…)
And so let’s get to work. Thank you./.